Waterfall (Mis)Adventures in the Philippines

Writing about adventures is something I picture myself doing, but writing about menstrual misadventures is something I never imagined doing.  

First, because it feels kind of embarrassing to talk about menstruation. Second, it’s not very pleasant to think about blood coming out of you. But while it may feel uncomfortable and awkward to talk about, when you really think about it, there’s nothing wrong about it.  Women should be comfortable talking about their periods. It’s just our natural flow. The women at Animosa helped me realize this, and they encouraged me to share this story.

-Princess del Castillo


It was the last day of my period. It was also our last day in Calbayog, Samar. The Philippine province of Samar is known for its wondrous waterfalls. We hadn’t yet been to Tarangban Falls and we didn’t want this weekend trip to end without fulfilling this promised adventure. So my friend and I packed our bags, and some napkins (aka pads), and set out early in the morning.

Tarangban Falls is actually part of a stunning series of three falls: Tarangban Falls being the uppermost tier, an unnamed middle waterfall that required a bit of rock climbing, and Bangon Falls as the lower tier. Three waterfalls in one trip—how awesome is that?

We rode for an hour in a jeepney towards the tumoff in Tinaplacan. A local guide steered us onto the forest path to the falls. It started drizzling midway through our hike. (I think I may be cursed with rain accompanying me every time I travel.) I hadn’t even reached the waterfalls and I was already soaked. 

The trek was steep and muddy, but it was well worth it.  We were rewarded when we reached the main attraction—Tarangban Falls is marvelous indeed! It looks like a vertical river rapid, with its numerous channels spread across the rocks.

Our guide told us about a small cave at the bottom of the waterfall, and I didn’t hesitate to dive right in. The water was cold yet refreshing, but something wasn’t right... 

Oh, girl. I totally forgot about my napkin.

I couldn’t take it off now, especially with our local guide there. So I just had to suck it up until we got back to the jumpoff. Fortunately the beauty of the falls helped distract me from my soggy situation.

We passed by the other two waterfalls as we trekked down the mountain. At our last stop in Bangon Falls, we swam a bit more at its pool (yep, still with my napkin on). The sun was out by then, and we were nearly dry by the time we returned to the jumpoff just past noon. 

Time to change my napkin. I was lucky to find a comfort room, basically a small room with a toilet and a bucket. It had no sink nor a trash can. Oh, girl. Imagine my panic when I discovered the non-existent trash can. I didn’t want to just leave the napkin in there, and throwing it outside in the wilderness was not an option either. The only ethical solution I could think of was to bring it home with me. Not really having any good options, I wrapped my napkin in a plastic bag and shoved it in the side pocket of my backpack.

My waterfall-soaked napkin journeyed with me for three jeepney transfers, a short boat ride, and more than four hours of travel. The first thing I did when I got home was dispose it in our bathroom trash can.  

That little napkin and I had quite an adventure and traveled a long way to get home!